Intentional Parenting Family Movies
How Babysitters Can Enhance Verbal Development and Social-Emotional Learning for Children Ages 3 - 8
TeachWithMovies.com's free Talking and Playing Guides are designed to help parents and caretakers make watching a movie an educational experience for children ages 3 - 8. If you intend to have your babysitter show a movie while you're gone, you can select three or four that your kids love and set them out. Allow them to work together and pick the one they want to watch.
One comment by a parent or care giver that takes a concept from the movie seriously can change the way children look at the film. -- Now it has something to say. Now it's more than just a movie. -- After such a comment children will think about the lessons of the film.
Talking and Playing Guides use a system that TeachWithMovies.com has developed in consultation with childhood development experts to make movies more than just a way to entertain kids. The system is based on two basic insights:
These techniques apply not only to watching family movies, but also to any other activity. Verbal development and social-emotional learning are also be enhanced when talk and play are related to a book, a play, an outing, etc.
Specific Examples: Parents and Babysitters Maximizing Verbal Development and Social-Emotional Learning with the Talking and Playing System
Ask Questions: Ask open ended questions about the story, its characters, situations, and themes. Listen to a child's answer and acknowledge its value. Then, if you can, ask another question that refers to the answer. A good time to ask questions is at a break in the film. You can ask what your child thinks of an incident or character in the movie. Another good question is: "What do you think will happen next?" When the film is over, ask again about a character or incident that you had brought up before: "What do you think about [refer to the character or the incident] now?" Or ask what your child thinks of the film or about his or her favorite part. If at any time you get an answer that doesn't explain the reasons behind it, ask "why?" You might not get a response but the question will get him or her thinking. Another question that can get a conversation started is: "Was there anything that confused or surprised you?"
Retell the Story: Let your child retell the story to you. Or retell the story yourself. Be aware of the themes of the story when you retell it. Stress them and try to engage your child in conversation about them. Use words that might not be in the child's vocabulary and explain their meaning.
Add More Stories: Make up a different ending or create a new story using the characters from the film. Better yet, ask your child to make up a new ending. Or, the two of you can do it together. The new story can be based on themes from the movie, on your child's interests or experiences, or on social-emotional lessons you want to stress. If a child wants to jump in and add facts and scenes to the new story, that's great. Allow the child to take over the story and make it his or her own.
Act Out the Stories: A child can be encouraged to act out the story with or without other people assisting.
Play With Stuffed Animals and Toys: Encourage your child to select stuffed animals, dolls, puppets, or action figures to represent characters from the movie and use them to act out scenes from the movie or additional scenes that the two of you make up. (The toys selected don't need to look anything like the characters in the film.) When you participate in this type of play, include situations which refer to the themes of the story and use words that will help expand vocabulary.
Draw Pictures: Get out some paper and colored pencils and suggest that the two of you draw pictures that include scenes from the movie or find coloring books with its characters. As you draw or color, talk about the characters, scenes and themes of the story using words that will extend your child's vocabulary.
Prepare Food Suggested by the Movie: If there is cooking or eating in the movie, you and your child can cook the same or similar food, or a character's favorite food. Again, while you do this, talk and use words in an imaginative manner.
Work with the sounds of words, especially words that sound like what they mean or have an interesting sound. Make a game of words with some of the syllables having the same sound and some having different sounds. Show how the different sounds change the meaning. Examples of words that sound like what they mean are: buzz, crash, tinkle, moan, whirr, clang, pop, hiss, crunch, purr, click, squeak, mumble, hush, boom, and whopper. Work with the meanings of words. Many words have a meaning that are the opposite of what other words mean (e.g., light/dark; fat/thin; hot/cold). Some words mean almost the same thing, like damp/wet; hot/scalding; light/bright. There are prefixes and suffixes and you can work with their sound and their meaning.(Examples are: prefixes: mis-; sub-; pre-; un-; & a-; and suffixes: -s; -es; -ed; -ing; -er; & -ific). Then there are compound words such as cupcake, newspaper, thumbtack, etc. Finally, there are words derived from Latin or Greek. You can invent fun games with them all.
What's Going On in the Characters' Minds? Talk to children about what the characters in the film must have been feeling and thinking when they took certain actions. Try to get below the surface if you can.
Parents who intentionally seek to use many different activities to enhance the verbal development and social-emotional learning of their children, can enlist their babysitters and other care givers for this purpose. Family movies can be more than just entertainment, but engines for growth, development and character education.
So long as no fee is charged and credit is given to TeachWithMovies.com, Inc., any portion of this article, or the article in its entirety, may be printed or reproduced for distribution to parents or teachers.is printed or reproduced credit must be given to TeachWithMovies.com, Inc. © 2007 by TeachWithMovies.com, Inc. "Talking and Playing with Movies" and the pencil filmstrip logo are trademarks of TeachWithMovies.com, Inc. This web page was written by James Frieden and Lauren Humphrey and first published September 28, 2007.